Most of us put on a few extra pounds over the years and have tried various methods to lose it and maintain a healthy weight. One of the most effective ways I've found to do this, which I shared in my 30-day healthy habits course, is what I call the 400:4 diet.
What is the 400:4 Diet?
The 400:4 diet is consuming no more than 400 calories in 4 hours (400 in 4). It's one of the most effective ways I've found to keep myself on track because it doesn't require keeping a log, just being mindful of what you've eaten and drank in the last 4 hours.
More than a diet, it's a sustainable lifestyle change, a different way of looking at things.
How Does the 400:4 Diet Work?
The USDA recommends a calorie range of 1,600-2400 for adults. If you are eating and drinking no more than 400 calories in any given 4 hour period, the maximum you could consume is 2,400 calories.
If you eat 400 calories at 7 AM, 11 AM, 3 PM, and 7 PM, you will have consumed 1,600 calories. That's well within the recommended calorie counts for weight loss for the average individual. This plan doesn't call for any set number of meals; it's just a way of gauging when you've had too much. Eating more smaller meals can help keep you from being too hungry throughout the day as well.
What if I Miss a Meal?
This program isn't designed to have a specific number of meals throughout the day; it merely defines the maximum number of calories you can eat in any given 4 hour period. Slow and steady is best when it comes to losing weight, as studies show that people who gradually and steadily lose 1 to 2 pounds a week tend to keep the weight off.
If you lose weight much faster than a few pounds a week, eat a little more next time if you miss a meal. Otherwise, don't worry about the past; resume the program by eating up to 400 calories in the next 4 hours.
What if I Eat Too Much?
If you happen to eat a bit too much, wait 1 hour for every 100 calories before resuming the program. For example, if you eat 800 calories at a family dinner, wait 8 hours instead of 4 for that food to settle before your next meal.
Why the 400:4 Diet Is so Easy to Follow
One problem I had with tracking my food is that I'd eat all day, then figure out that I'd gone over after the fact. This method makes you more mindful of what you are eating throughout the day. It's also convenient when you're on the go constantly like I am. Most fast food places and restaurants are required to label the calorie counts on meals, so you can see at a glance what fits into this plan when on the road.
For example, a McChicken is 400 calories, so I know I can eat that with this plan, but I wouldn't add a large Coke and fry for another 780 calories. If I do happen to go over, which does happen, I don't beat myself up; I merely wait a little while longer than usual to let that food settle before resuming the program with the next meal.
Beyond Calorie Counting
It is important to note that there is more that goes into staying healthy than just calorie counting. You need to eat a healthy mixture of fruits, vegetables, protein, grain, and dairy, plus implement a regular fitness routine for long-term health. The USDA publishes dietary guidelines designed to prevent disease and provide the highest quality of life, which I encourage you to follow.
For more specifics on how to stay healthy, including the top 5 foods to avoid and the top 5 foods to add to your diet, be sure to check out our healthy habits course, which is currently on sale! Based on the latest scientific data, you'll get specific activities to do in your inbox over the next 30 days which are designed to get you into a healthy routine. For about the price of a meal, create some new habits this month which can last a lifetime!